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8 Things You Didn’t Know About The Irish Cob

Image source: @ThomasQuine via Flickr

 While the term “cob” is common enough, if you are not from the United Kingdom or Ireland, you may be unsure just exactly what an Irish Cob is. In fact, you may wonder is it an actual breed at all, or more of a “type”? Below are some fun facts about this beautiful horse.

#1 – They are known as Gypsy horses or Gypsy Vanners in other parts of the world

The reason you may not recognize the Irish Cob is because to most the world, they are known as the Gypsy, Gypsy Cob, or Gypsy Vanner. This breed, which has several registries including the Gypsy Horse Registry of America, Gypsy Horse Association and Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, are from imported Irish Cobs.

Image source: @ThomasQuine via Flickr
Image source: @ThomasQuine via Flickr

#2 – All colors are accepted

Though many of us picture the black and white pinto when we think of these horses, they actually come in a rainbow of colors. Unlike many breeds, the Irish Cob allows for pretty much any color except albino, according to the Irish Horse Society.

Image Source: Linda Thyselius
Image Source: Linda Thyselius

#3 – For showing purposes, the breed is divided into 3 sizes

According to the Irish Horse Society, show divisions are as follows:  A horses – over 15.2hh up to 16.3hh; B horses – over 14.2hh up to 15.2hh; C horses – under 14.2hh.

Image source: Bill Nicholls
Image source: Bill Nicholls

#4 – Though the breed is old, the studbook was created recently

While the Irish Cob has a long history, the studbook wasn’t officially founded until 1998. The breed didn’t get established in America (as the Gypsy) until the late 1990’s as well.

Image source: Wikimedia
Image source: Wikimedia

#5 – The breed was developed by Gypsies to pull their wagons

If you have ever wondered why we call them Gypsies in America–“Gypsy horses”– it’s because the breed was developed by the Romani people in the United Kingdom and Ireland to pull their Vardoes – a beautifully designed wagon that they lived and worked in.

Image source: Andy F.
Image source: Andy F.

#6 – It’s feather not featherS!

If you want to get a rise out of an Irish Cob owner or breeder, just comment on their horse’s lovely “feathers.” They will be quick to correct you – it is always “feather” or “feathering” never with an “s.”

IC6 Feather_on_Horse's_Lower_Leg
Image source: SFGMary

#7 – Big but gentle

Many may see their large, powerful bodies and think they must be quite a handful. But since the breed was developed literally as part of a Traveler’s family, they had to have a sweet disposition. Often it was the children taking care of the family horse, so while strong enough to pull a wagon, they are soft enough to be led by a child. This makes them ideal mounts (or cart horses) for almost anyone.

Image source: JosephSardin via Flickr
Image source: JosephSardin via Flickr

#8 – Were they bred for meat?

I have been told by some that Irish Cobs were also bred for meat markets in Europe. But after some research, I think this tale came from the misleading term “Gypsy horse.” The research I found was that along with the Irish Cob, Gypsy’s bred trotter horses and “trade” horses that were used for meat. Technically, these horse are also “gypsy horses” because they were bred by Gypsies, but they are not the same as the Irish Cob. I found no evidence to support that the actual Irish Cob was bred for meat.  (www.vannercenteral.com / westceltgypsy.coma)

Image source: @ThomasQuine via Flickr
Image source: @ThomasQuine via Flickr

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